Sampaoli buoyed by Vidal return

Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli acknowledged the importance of Arturo Vidal returning to action in Wednesday's friendly with Northern Ireland.

The Juventus midfielder, who underwent knee surgery in early May, came on as a late substitute and was involved in his side's opening goal as Chile concluded their FIFA World Cup preparations with a 2-0 win in Valparaiso.

It remains to be seen whether Vidal will be considered ready to play a part in Chile's opening game in Brazil, against Australia on June 13.

Yet, Sampaoli offered a positive update on the 27-year-old's progress.

"The decision to let him play was agreed with both the medical team and Arturo. It was important to let him play some minutes and we got a chance to see him again," Sampaoli told reporters.

"Arturo had a very short recovery and he came where we need him to, thanks to his boldness. He always wanted to play this game, and although we had some doubts, he cleared them all.

"Tomorrow (Thursday) he'll have to get into the rhythm of things so he can be in the opener.

"It no longer depends on his knee, but on the level for competition."

Chile have been drawn in Group B for the World Cup, with games against Spain and the Netherlands - the 2010 finalists - to follow their opening clash with Australia.


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